Thursday, February 13, 2014

An early morning look back...

As has been the case on numerous occasions, I am writing this blog on the TM 10 bus that runs from the Main Media Center in the coastal cluster in Sochi up to the Gorki Media Center in the mountain cluster.
Traditionally this bus is packed with people making the trek from the coast to the mountains, both journalists and Olympic volunteers and staff heading to their posts for the day.
But this bus is fairly empty. Most of the people on it are the aforementioned staff or volunteers, with only a few members of the media making this trip.
The main reason? Well, it’s early. It’s just after 6:30 a.m. Sochi time (9:30 p.m. back in New Hampshire). The start of the downhill portion of the men’s super combined got pushed up an hour to a 10 a.m. start and with a few things to do before heading to the alpine venue, I wanted to make sure I had the time.
So I got up the earliest I’ve gotten up since I’ve been here, 5 a.m., and headed to the Main Media Center and here I sit on the bus on my way to the mountains, with two seats to myself.
Today marks my seventh day here in Russia, so it’s time for a little reflection on what I’ve seen and what I’ve witnessed during my time far from home.
First and foremost, as I’ve stated on more than one occasion, the people have gone out of their way to be friendly and helpful, even when the language barrier is tough to get through. The image of Russians being somewhat cold and distant hasn’t show through much in my experience.
The food has been OK. I admit that I was worried that I would be eating at McDonald’s every single day because I wouldn’t find anything palatable, but I have been surprised. I’ve had numerous meals in the Main Media Center food court that I’ve enjoyed. I am a picky eater so I tend to stick with what I know. I’m not saying I’ve taken many chances with local foods, but I haven’t been eating at McDonald’s on a regular basis either.
The accomodations were a concern heading in, what with all the stories from other journalists about their hotels, but I have had no problems at all at mine. The beds are small, but there is hot water, electricity and clean sheets. Really, that’s what I need out of a room. I am not spending much time there anyway, so more than that would be overkill.
The internet situation has been a bit frustrating for me at times. I paid for a package so that I wouldn’t have to rely on media wi-fi when trying to get my work done, but my iPad has had trouble logging into that system. The technology people have been helpful, though I think they may be sick of seeing me coming to their desk. I do know that the problems aren’t there fault, they are just there to help us with questions.
Finally, I was excited to see that four of my local teams back in New Hampshire won championships this past week. It’s tough to not be there to cover these teams that I’ve been with for many years, but this once in a lifetime opportunity was too much to pass up. I’m glad Kathy Sutherland and Jeff Lajoie were able to help me out with some coverage and the coaches with results.
Russia has certainly been an eye-opener and I am excited for what the next week holds.

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